Booze Review

Whisky Review – Mackmyra Swedish Whisky, The 1st Edition


If you’d have asked me 15 years ago to make a list of the first five things that come to mind when someone mentions Sweden, here’s what I would have said:

  1. Bjorn Borg
  2. Ikea
  3. Volvo
  4. Saab
  5. Abba

If you would have asked me just 5 years ago, this Swedish Supercar would have come to mind…

It turns out that 13 years ago, eight friends decided to start a whisky distillery while on a ski vacation together. Here is their story courtesy of Mackmyra’s website:

Perhaps it sounds too simple, but it all started with a skiing trip. Eight friends met up at a mountain lodge in the spring of 1998. Each had taken along a bottle of malt whisky for the host; the topic of conversation was obvious. How do you make whisky? And why isn’t there a Swedish one? The question led us to start exploring the possibilities of making our own Swedish whisky…

At our distillery at Mackmyra Bruk, we have pursued our dreams and created the Swedish whisky. We make it our own way, using local ingredients and no additives, and we are constantly striving to evolve. The result has put Sweden on the international whisky map.

Let’s get on with the review…

  • Appearance: Pale gold. Thin, fast moving streaks form after giving it a swirl.
  • Aroma: Plums. Pears. Vanilla. Very mild smokiness. Juniper. Hints of eucalyptus and other botanicals. Adding water brings out some anise. Sort of a Whisky/Silver Tequila/London Dry Gin mash-up on the nose.
  • Taste: Slightly oily mouthfeel. Very mild smokiness. The first sip tingles the tip of your tongue with mild pepperiness. Very light and somewhat fruity as well. There is very little alcohol sting when you drink it at full strength. The black pepper spiciness continues to build (though it’s never overbearing), and leads to a dry, medium finish. Adding water brings out more of the fruitiness.
  • ABV: 46.1%

I sampled this whisky for the first time about two weeks ago with the rest of the “It’s just the booze dancing…” crew. From what I remember, we had some fairly wide ranging opinions about this whisky. The ROK and I really enjoyed it, The Wookie thought it was quite odd and said that he would put it a notch or two above the Rogue Dead Guy Whisky (this prompted me to send the following Tweet: “#Whiskey nosing note: #Rogue Dead Guy Whisky smells like week old festering messy diapers. 7 years of kids diapers has taught me this.” And this is why you shouldn’t drink and Tweet!), and Limpd was sort of on the fence about it. I’m sure they will eventually chime in with their remarks.

I really enjoyed the Mackmyra 1st Edition. While it’s not as multi-dimensional as most of the older whiskies that are available on the market, I really enjoyed how straightforward and easy drinking it truly is. Fresh and vibrant are two words that immediately come to mind. While it’s perfectly drinkable right out of the bottle, I recommend adding a bit of water since that really helps to tone down the pepper and enhance the fruitiness. I’m curious to see what this would taste like if it was aged a bit longer. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if their other expressions make it to the US.

Thank you to Jonathan Luks for sending us this very generous sample, and to Angela D’Orazio, Mackmyra’s Master Blender, for sharing her thoughts about this whisky with us on Twitter.

14 replies »

  1. A couple of observations:

    1 – How does the Swedish Bikini Team not make your top 5?
    2 – I was definitely on the bottom end of the review spectrum on this one. It smelled great but so does perfume and your shouldn’t drink that either.
    3 – The comparison to the “Dead Guy” I think was appropriate given that I blame the poor taste on it’s young age. I think the Mackmyra will improve after a few more years in the barrel.
    4 – I think the ROK was loving this stuff …. We need to get his comments.

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    • Re: The Swedish Bikini Team, not really sure why they didn’t make my list. Probably cause the odds of those girls being from Sweden was slim to none. After doing a bit of research, I came upon the following link from Wikipaedia (you know, cause everything they say MUST be true) : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_Bikini_Team . Turns out my suspicions were correct. They were a bunch of American girls. Lovely? Yes. Swedish? No.

      Regarding your experience with the whisky, tastes differ. I’ve sampled it on several occasions between that first tasting and this review, and I definitely like it alot. Way different from what we usually drink. Lighter. Fresher. VERY easy drinking. A nice change of pace. Perhaps you should try it again.

      And as far as the Dead Guy goes, that sucker should get rebarreled and then forgotten forever. No amount of aging can improve it.

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      • Was the Swedish Bikini Team in one of the Esquire the boys “borrowed” during the sleepover? Anyway, Swedish Fish would be at the top of my list.

        I thought this whisky was a very easy to drink. I’m trying to think back, but I think I was drinking it neat. I may have added a bit of ice after the initial taste, but I remember it being very smooth without any bite.

        If I recall correctly, this was also the night the Phillies beat the Cardinals in game 1 of the NLDS so given my good mood, almost anything except the dead guy probably would have tasted good

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  2. I would say I was a little more on the Wookie’s side of the fence on this one. It had a great aroma that in the end was misleading as the taste was much closer to a slightly smoky, slightly peppery mouthful of potpourri. The finish had a lingering floral flavor that was simply bad. I agree that a few more years in the barrel might even out the flavors but for now I would pass on it.

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    • I’m impressed. A fair and balanced criticism from both you AND The Wookie. I do think you should give it a second try. Add some water too. Really opens it up.

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      • I concur with LimpD’s floral description. From the aroma I expected something in that area between aged rum, bourbon, and Scotch. This had much more floral and herbal notes than that first smell let on. Maybe more like aged gin than Scotch. There may be more influence of Akvavit than Uisce Beath.

        I can see why you like it G-lo. It fits in with some of your favorites. Not the smoky Scotch but lots of spice and herbs like some of your other selections (The Root, St. Germain, etc.). This did remind me that I am out of the lichen schnapps from Iceland (Fjallagrasa). I need to plan a trip to correct that!

        I will give it a second try but I want to treat it a little more like gin. Maybe a Mackmyra and Tonic with a Twist (M&T on the rocks). Or go full Swede with a Mackmyra and Lingonberry. We may have to add some Mackmyra mixes to our Viking themed Halloween.

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        • I actually don’t care much for the St Germain. Probably cause I haven’t quite figured out what to do with it. Damn good looking bottle though! A lovely addition to any bar.

          I’m with you on the Gin/Mackmyra correlation. Hence why I thought the nose was a Whisky/Gin/Silver Tequila mash-up. I thought about making a highball with it, i.e. on the rocks and topped with some Club Soda. Perhaps some San Pellegrino? Seriously though, I think it’s pretty damn tasty by itself. I’m going to pour myself a glass right now.

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    • QUESTION FOR LIMPD:

      Rank these these spirits from best to worst
      – Mackmyra
      – Root
      – The Knot
      – Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey
      – John Barr Whiskey

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      • I would rank them in this order.
        Mackmyra
        The Knot
        John Barr Whiskey
        Root
        Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey

        Of course, I think you are associating Mackmyra with a lot of really mediocre spirits. While I didn’t enjoy the Mackmyra, I certainly didn’t hate it like some of those on this list. A better list would be a ranking of the Tamdhu 10, that awful Thai whiskey and the Dead Guy. If these were the last three beverages on earth would you choose death by dehydration or drink any one of them?

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      • Not an association with mediocrity just trying to see where your head is at. I figured the Mackmyra would rise to the top of this list. I didn’t think it was bad just not my style.

        I do question your placement of The Knot at number two, that shit is undrinkable. But this is not the first time your opinion has been swayed but “Pretty Packaging”. I swear if they put aged goat urine in a bedazzled Bruichladdich bottle and packed it in a cool wooden box you would buy a case of it.

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        • I agree. The Mackmyra wasn’t bad. In fact, for a first effort, it was pretty good. I just found the taste to be a complete disconnect from the aroma. And, I must agree that I am a sucker for packaging and a number of my purchases (anything with blueberry or the word shandy come to mind) have been very pretty but nearly undrinkable. But, the Knot while certainly not to any of our likings was quite a hit with my female focus group. Also, as respects the goat urine, how long was it aged? If you gave it a cool name in a foreign language (say Spanish – orina de cabra), embossed the bottle with a cool logo and told me it had been aged at least ten years, I would probably buy it.

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